De Ungria with (from left) National Scientist
Dr. Lourdes Cruz, Senator Loren Legarda and DOST
Secretary Mario Montejo.
(July 17)— Dr. Maria Corazon A. De Ungria, head of the DNA Laboratory of the Natural Sciences Research Institute, received the Outstanding Research and Development Award for Applied Research from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on July 10 during the 5-day National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) at the SM Mall of Asia.
The award, which carries the Julian A. Banzon Medal and a cash prize, is given to a group or an individual who has made outstanding contributions through research.
Named after National Scientist Juan A. Banzon, who is also known as the Grand Man of Chemistry, the award recognized De Ungria for her significant research on “Y-STR Analysis of 154 Female Child Sexual Assault Cases in the Philippines.”
According to the DOST, this research has “enabled the detection of male DNA in samples collected from the bodies of the child victims. Of the 154 samples, the study reported the detection of male DNA in 63 samples that were collected within 72 hours post-contact, even in the absence of positive detection of sperm cells via microscopy. In many of these cases, the children had difficulty in providing names of the perpetrators. With the availability of the male DNA profile/s in each case that should be compared with suspects’ DNA, the study hopes to assist Philippine courts in the identification of the human origin of male DNA found in these children.”
The awardee with mother Dr Segundina A. De Ungria
(both seated), husband Atty Jose M Jose (standing,
from left and researchers of the UP DNA Analysis
The citation further states “The identification of the real offender is an integral step in the judicial process, and is made simpler with the validation of the methods of sample collection, handling, transfer, forensic DNA analysis and storage of samples that was reported in the study.”
As head, De Ungria manages research projects and extension services of the DNA Analysis laboratory, which is promoting the development of forensic DNA technology in the country. One significant project the laboratory is undertaking is the generation of the database of the Filipino population across the 12 regional centers and tribal communities.
A Gawad Chanselor Hall of Fame awardee at UP Diliman, De Ungria received the university’s highest distinction for excellence in the research category for having been recognized in three consecutive years from 2002 to 2004. In 2003, she was given the Outstanding Scientist Award for Molecular Biology by the National Academy of Science and Technology. The following year, she received the Gerry Roxas Leadership Award from the Gerry Roxas Foundation, Inc. and The Outstanding Young Men Award (TOYM) by the Philippine Jaycees Inc. and the TOYM Foundation.
De Ungria earned a Bachelor of Science (Honours) from Macquarie University, Australia and a Ph.D. in Molecular Microbiology from the University of New South Wales in Australia.--CIA